Sales tips for the aspiring rock star!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Presenting Your Solutions Effectively

There comes a point in every sales process where we must present our solutions as they relate to the challenges/opportunities we've discovered during the needs analysis step. Say it first, better or exclusively and we can set ourselves apart. Fail to do that and you are just another "vendor" who makes the "I'll make a note to give a damn" file!

Today's blog post is all about Presenting Solutions Effectively!

Whether you use a proposal or not, you really need to check out Jonathan Farrington's post on how to construct what he calls "recommendation summaries" Its by far the best I've seen on the subject

I like to include a page called "Concerns & Solutions" which is simply a recap of everything they told me they needed to improve along with my recommendation to fix it. Its a great way to show someone that you heard them and helps bring the conversation to a collaborative level. What if they didn't share any deficiencies with you? That's when you change "Concerns & Solutions" into a handy dandy "Findings & Solutions" In other words, these are some areas that you found in all your Jedi like prowess that could use some lovin.

Recap of previous meeting: Go ahead say it . . . I'm tossing a sales "101" thingy at you! Maybe but hear me out. The recap is a fantastic opportunity for you to change their state. Let's face it, they most probably don't have you, the challenges/opportunities their company is facing, the other vendor etc on the brain at that very moment. And even if they do, I'm not going to bank on them having enough emotional intensity to move them off the fence of indifference. The recap can help you do it. The recap also shows you were listening and allows you to keep the process collaborative.

Tip: Use their words and phrases. Why? It not only shows you listened, but its very hard to resist that which we previously communicated. Additionally, people like people like them self and its a killer rapport building technique when you mirror someone. Example: I once had someone tell me that the other vendor wasn't "Dialed into technology" Guess what phrase I used in my recap?

Possession of The Proposal: When its a one on one presentation, I generally like to control the flow of information by holding on to the proposal. By the way, controlling the flow of information is a nice way of me saying "I don't want them flipping to the price page". You know they are going to do it too. I'm obviously not ashamed of my price, but why would I skip to that with what most probably will be an absence of value?

What do you do if there are several people there? I control the flow of information by either doing a powerpoint or giving them all a copy of the proposal but with the price page removed (I provide it when we get to that part of the presentation). I'll even make a joke about it to clear the air.

No Barriers: You don't want there to be anything physically between you and your prospect because that translates into a subconscious message of a barrier. There are many people in the financial services and insurance industries that utilize a "side by side" position. This works really well for one on one presentations and puts you in a collaborative posture with the prospect. Now you are working together instead of you vs them. Think that sends a powerful subconscious message? I use humor to initiate the side by side position. I'll usually say something like "Would you mind if I came around to your side of the table? I'm horrible at reading upside down." I'm sure it goes without saying that we want to respect the whole personal space thing. Seriously, I've seen people screw this up to the point that if they got any closer they would be giving the prospect a lap dance.

Intentional Language: The subject of intentional language is a blog post all by itself. For today, lets just say its important to choose your words carefully. Are there some words you can use that pack a more powerful punch? Are there other words that may cause someone to scrutinize your solution? Are there words that reinforce the collaborative tone? Trust me, intentional language is huge. More to come!

The 2 Minute Rule: This is critical. Every 2 minutes, come up for air and make it interactive. You can ask a question, involve them somehow, have them crunch the numbers with you. This will differentiate you big time because there are lots of sales people that just keep talking at the prospect instead of involving them.

Use Evidence To Support Your Solution: One of the things we used to say at Carnegie was "Who says so beside you?" In other words, do you have a statistic, a case study, a testimonial to help support your solution? And here's the key, you need to Proactively Prove what you say because chances are they have been burned before or at the very least want to believe you, but need that little something extra to remove any doubt. Plus, how many people proactively prove things?

Congruency: Understand that your verbal, vocal and visual message must all be in alignment or you encourage doubt. Is your presentation full of "ums" and "you knows"? Are you cool with your eye contact until you talk price? Does your voice jump an octave when you are nervous?

Tip: Video tape yourself and look at yourself through the eyes of a potential client. The first time I did this, the smart ass filming me went out of their way to focus in on the bald spot on the back of my head so I kind of missed the lesson. Seriously, this is one of the best ways for you to hone your presentation skills.

There's a lot more we could discuss when it comes to presenting our solutions more effectively. Expect more on this subject in the weeks to come!

Meanwhile . . . what's your best advice for presenting solutions more effectively?

What's New: Neil Wood author of the excellent book The Magic of Working Smarter will be interviewed on the Success Secrets show on Blogtalkradio November 12th at 5:00 pm. You can find the details here:

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  1. Nice job Uncle Paul and you can't go wrong with a Wedding Crashers picture.


  2. I like to check their temperature throughout the presentation by asking things like "Make sense?" "Did I address that properly?"

    Mark Z

  3. @ Gail: Thanks for stopping by and you are right about the Wedding Crashers Pic :)

    @ Mark Z: Noted and agreed amigo! Doing so keeps it collaborative and lets you know where you stand before attempting to gain the ultimate commitment.

    Thank you both for contributing!

    Paul Castain

  4. I thought you hit several home runs here. Specifically, the speech pattern pacing and 2 minute rule on interaction are most often missed by even tenured reps.

    Cole Behringer

  5. Thanks Cole! I appreciate the input!

    Paul Castain

  6. OUTSTANDING post, Paul. In the area of offering proof, one might be well advised never to prove that which the customer already believes. Not only is it a waste of time, it indicates a weakness in our belief structure. If we're in agreement, why prove it again?

  7. I try to use video demonstrations and even personalized power point (or OpenOffice) presentations when I can. I love vendors who do actual produce on-site videos. Then I can back up what I saw by clicking on a video demonstration.

  8. @ Hank Trisler: I agree with a slight caveat I need to be sure the customer already believes or is in agreement.

    I've seen the opposite of this too many times where someone has assumed "Everyone knows that" or "Everyone says that"

    If I have that certainty and go ahead and over justify, you are 100% correct and invites suspicion.

    Thanks for stopping by to contribute Hank!

    Paul Castain

  9. @Michael Yublosky: Sounds like a great way to reinforce the message!

    Thanks for the input. Much appreciated!

    Paul Castain


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Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics (CGX) one of North America’s leading general commercial printing companies. Paul has over 25 years of sales and sales leadership experience. He has trained, mentored and coached over 3,000 sales and sales leadership professionals. An accomplished public speaker, Paul has delivered numerous key note addresses. He has authored numerous training manuals, articles, blog posts and is currently working on his first book for release in 2011. Feel free to email Paul This has been a paid announcement by the friends of Paul Castain!

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Paul Castain's Sales Play Book is blog dedicated to strengthening our sales game, supporting rock star development and developing jedi like skills. All that is required is a willingness to learn and a sick sense of humor!

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